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Sea kayak trip ratings

Category SK I SK II SK III SK IV SK V SK VI
Geography. (Fetch is the unobstructed distance over which wind can build waves.) In areas protected from waves in case of wind. Fetch less than 10 nautical miles (nm). Crossings less than 0.5 nm except in very protected areas. Crossings up to 2 nm; fetch longer than 10 nm. Crossings up to 5 nautical miles. Crossings more than 5 nm, but less than 3 hours at the speed listed for the trip. Trips combining long fetch with difficult or impossible landing for most of a day.
Hydraulics Insignificant currents. Maximum predicted current up to one knot (kt). Maximum predicted current up to two kt. Currents may be greater than 2 kt, but less than the slowest paddler’s top speed. Currents may be faster than the group can paddle against. Exposure to hazards at other levels taken to extremes.
Route Day trips near shore. Either the route is protected or has easy escape routes. May involve crossing eddy lines and tide rips. May cross STRONG eddy lines, tide rips, and upwellings. May include launching and landing in surf. Exposure to hazards at other levels taken to extremes.
Acceptable Conditions. Calm Generally try to avoid choppy water and wind above 10 knots. Generally will not go in whitecaps but be prepared for paddling in waves large enough to wash over the deck, and be comfortable in winds of at least 10 knots. May include steep waves and swells. Be comfortable paddling in 15 knot winds. For groups prepared to set out in rough weather, whitecaps and fast currents. May only be negotiable with favorable conditions. Kayak rescues may not be possible.
Required Skills and Experience. (Note that the required skills are cumulative across this row). Previous trip experience for trips longer than 5 nautical miles. Must have practiced sea kayak rescue techniques. Conditions may require bracing skills. Previous assisted and self-rescue practice. Conditions may require anticipatory leaning, reflexive bracing, using the paddle to stern rudder, and the ability to read moving water. Familiarity with charts and navigation is required. Trip members must have tested their skill in rough conditions, know their limits, and be self-reliant in the even of separation from the group. Eskimo roll highly recommended or required. Extensive experience including kayak surfing and rolling are required.